Canvassing My Friends

Canvassing My Friends paintings

On the 16th of June 2010 I had an idea.

I had an artist living within, but was afraid to paint. Fears of failure and critique crippled my creativity to the point where I did nothing. I did nothing with my painting extremely well, and so there I remained for years – all the while boiling on the inside to do something significant with the talent that God had given to me.

In the past I had made efforts to paint, with limited success. I used all the usual forms of procrastination available – my favourite excuses being “I don’t know what to paint” or “I have no inspiration” – which was probably the most ridiculous excuse for me. For the past 20 years – in my job as a graphic designer – I had to find creative inspiration every single working day of my life and I had taught graphic design students how to find inspiration for their own projects. I reached the point where I was no longer content to let the emotion of fear control my personal creative expression, and so was borne my grand idea – “inspired” by Facebook.

Not too long before, I had established a personal Facebook account and had collected the usual posse of friends and acquaintances. To ensure results I decided to make my painting accountable to all my friends on Facebook.

One by one I began painting my way through my list of friends, using each person as the source of inspiration for one painting – their personality, life story, my memories, our interactions, etc. The end result could have been an abstract, a scene, concept or an object that reflected that person. My source – for the painting – was selected in no particular order…just as the inspiration would take me.

I then uploaded each painting to this blog site (and to my Facebook page), and opened myself up for commentary. The painting was subsequently given away to my inspiree.

The project was designed to achieve many things: overcome the fears that so many artisans face; actually use my painting skills, develop them, and share them with others and to give a small gift to another person in the process.

The concept was a good one, and did – in general – achieve what it set out to accomplish. When I started, I had 50 Facebook Friends. Rather quickly the figure shot up to around 80, and the process became untenable for me. After 15 months (to September 2011) the project would still have had another 3+ years to run. I had to stop accepting new Facebook Friends because of the project, which was an unfortunate and unforeseen byproduct.

All along I felt that – out of a sense of integrity – I had to complete the project. However, out of a sense of self-preservation and realism, I reached the point where I felt there was equal integrity to say “I need to re-adjust what I’m doing and I hope you understand”.

I managed to finish 18 canvasses, which – for me – was a huge achievement. I will not stop painting. I will continue to publish my blog. I will continue to paint for others (so my old Facebook Friends may still receive a painting from me one day!).

Thank you for being part of my journey. The journey doesn’t end here, only a chapter closes. Another chapter is on its way!



Sarah Ritchie
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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
Exhibitor, The Original Art Sale 2011


© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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